Scientists in Hong Kong used modelling research to estimate that up to 75,800 people in Wuhan may have been infected with the new strain of coronavirus as of January 25.
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In their study published in The Lancet, researchers estimate that each person infected with coronavirus could have infected an average of two to three others, and the amount of people infected doubled around every six days. Through this model, they estimate more than 75,000 people could potentially be infected.
The official tally of people infected worldwide currently sits at around 9,800.
Author Gabriel Leung, a professor from the University of Hong Kong, said that many cases might not be properly accounted for because the infected people either don’t need or didn’t seek medical attention, and weren’t counted in the official tally. Other reasons, Leung said, could be due to a delay in symptoms appearing, and time required to properly confirm cases through laboratory testing.
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“During the urgent demands of a rapidly expanding epidemic of a completely new virus, especially when system capacity is getting overwhelmed, some of those infected may be undercounted in the official register,” Leung said in a press release.
The study also predicts that multiple other Chinese cities — like Guangzhou and Beijing — could have already brought in several coronavirus infections from Wuhan, and epidemics could only be a few weeks behind what’s been happening there.
The World Health Organization declared a global health emergency Thursday, citing worries that countries with “weak” health care systems would not be able to handle the outbreak.
A chilling photo of a man collapsed dead on the streets of Wuhan was published Thursday, highlighting the current coronavirus fear gripping the city and the world at large.
The grim image was taken by a photojournalist from Agence France-Presse and depicts a middle-aged man wearing all black and a face mask, lying face-up on the street, while two emergency workers in hazmat suits attempt to check the body.